It's a beautiful little formula. It reminds us who we are and that there is more to us than our physical needs; and it is something we are feeling pretty sharply right now.
Even if we were able to keep ourselves perfectly and absolutely safe, staying inside for the rest of the year, that is not enough. We need the something for the soul. Today I saw a group of friends sitting out on someone's lawn, lawn chairs way far apart, keeping each other company. The something for the soul was companionship. On the other hand, I know of parents who provide every physical need for their children by working so many hours that there is no time left in their days, and then wonder why their children are not content. The something for the soul is love and we need that.
It is that way with the things of the faith. We bring a baby to church. Water is splashed and words are spoken. Something for the body -- the water that carries a blessing of life and resurrection. And something for the soul -- the word of God (carrying the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) tucked deep within the soul for us to turn to and remember the promises of God.
We come to the Lord's Supper. We will be waiting this Thursday and we will hunger for the time when we can gather at the Table of the Lord. Jesus calls us to receive something for the body and something for the soul. Something for the body -- the actual risen from the dead body of Jesus, and the sin forgiving blood of Jesus, that He joins with our mortal bodies to carry the reality of Easter into our lives and one day bring us to the rising of our bodies into eternal life. And something for the soul -- the words and promises of Jesus when He says, "for the forgiveness of sins" and promises forgiveness, life and salvation. Time after time He feeds us building and forming faith within us.
Christianity is all the way through "something for the body; something for the soul." We cannot be without either. Christianity is not "only for the soul." That would be ridiculous. Especially this week, leading up to Easter we know how completely we needed Jesus to be laid in the tomb and rise from the tomb. From the beginning in Bethlehem, Jesus was born because God values your life, and that means your physical, bodily life. He plans to raise this body you live in and make it glorious. And because Jesus took our human flesh we believe that our neighbor's physical life and needs matter. That is actually why so many of the hospitals around our nation are religious, and so many are named for saints. What Jesus did in the body is the greatest force for caring for our neighbor there has ever been in the history of the world.
But Christianity is not "only for the body" either. That would sell us short. It would fall so far short of what we are made for, to think that food, shelter, money and possessions are all that we need. We were created to know hope, virtue, beauty, goodness and so many other things. We long for the things of the soul, and we know that God created and calls us to walk with Him. There are many, many stories through generation after generation of people holding onto hope in spite of everything, inspired by the grace and mercy of God.
And then there is the story of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive ointment just before He entered Jerusalem. (John 12:1-8) One of the disciples complained. It could have been sold to meet physical needs. But Jesus praised Mary's devotion. Things of the soul lead us through the hard times. And they enrich and give meaning to the blessings in life. We need them.
Something for the body. We live in this world and God gives us to each other and invites us to join Him in caring for others. And something for the soul. We live, within our souls, in the presence of God. That is an eternal relationship, and it is the beginning and heart of who we are. That relationship has its beginning with God. "O Lord, you have searched me and known me!" and "How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand." (Psalm 139:1, 17-18) And it finds its fulfillment at the end. "When He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)
Lord Jesus, as I live in this world help me remember that while I am in this world I am also walking with You. Thank You for Your work, done in the body to purchase and win me from sin and death. Thank You for the forgiveness You earned at the cost of Your bodily suffering and death. And guide me, deep within the soul, that I may learn Your teachings and walk by faith. Amen.